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Keely Smith: Swing, Swing, Swing

Jim Santella By

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Keely Smith swings with the Frank Capp Orchestra in an entertaining session that is sure to appeal to a half dozen different generations. Not just a fad, swing dancing and swing music evolved with the big bands, carried a strong thread through rock & roll, and continued as a hobbyist activity until recent years. Now, large crowds are drawn to this naturally free form of music. Dancers, as well as spectators and listeners enjoy the light, buoyant effect swing music affords. So why not hire the best to perform at your next social event?

Frank Capp’s big band grew out of a partnership with pianist Nat Pierce in 1975 in Los Angeles. The band has been working together since then, providing a welcome training ground for area jazz artists. Capp, born Frank Cappuccio, holds to the Count Basie tradition with respect to swing and dynamics. Band members have always been afforded the opportunity to grow and stretch out when working before L.A. audiences. For this session, all arrangements are brief and fast; good for swing dancing.

Louis Prima and Keely Smith were married and worked as a team, making considerable success in Las Vegas during the 1950s. The singer performs her own song, "Keely’s Boogie" on Swing, Swing, Swing with autobiographical lyrics that trace her career from Norfolk, Virginia to New York and Las Vegas, citing Sam Butera, John F. Kennedy, the Grammy Awards and Hollywood along the way. Butera, a strong tenor saxophonist who performed with the pair, has continued in recent years to entertain Las Vegas audiences at Smith’s side. Prima, of course, occupies a large part of the singer’s life. She’s dedicated this album to his memory. Their daughters, Toni and Luanne, appear on the session as half of a 4-part singing ensemble that lends support and high spirits on five tracks. While older audiences know of Louis Prima either by "being there" or through projects such as this one, the younger generation has heard the trumpeter/singer through his character in Walt Disney’s animated film The Jungle Book.

Tenor saxophonists Joel Peskin, Don Menza and Pete Christlieb handle the solo duties throughout Smith’s tribute. Pete Candoli serves up the solo trumpet duties on three tracks. He and Christlieb appear together on "House Party Tonight" with their unique and distinctive manners of driving a solo. There’s plenty of spirit. The charming big band arrangements highlight baritone saxophone and bass trombone on the bottom. Slim Gaillard’s "Palm Springs Jump" features something different and yet appropriate: a tuba walking the bass line. Jim Self’s soft-edged approach makes it work quite well. Keely Smith, still in fine vocal form with a strong, confident presentation has turned in a fine tribute to a Louis Prima in particular and swing music in general.


Track Listing: When You

Personnel: Keely Smith- vocals; Sal Lozano, Danny House- alto saxophone; Don Menza- clarinet, tenor saxophone; Pete Christlieb, Joel Peskin- tenor saxophone; Jack Nimitz- baritone saxophone; Frank Szabo, Rick Baptist, Carl Saunders, Pete Candoli- trumpet; Andy Martin, Charlie Loper, Charlie Morillas- trombone; Jim Self- trombone, tuba on "Yata Hei" and "Palm Springs Jump;" Chuck Berghofer, Richard Simon- acoustic bass; Ken Wild- electric bass; Pat Tuzzolino- guitar, backup vocals; Frank Capp- drums; Don Williams- percussion; Dennis Michaels- piano, backup vocals; Toni Prima, Luanne Prima- backup vocals.

Title: Swing, Swing, Swing | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


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